Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Sports

District softball roundup: First title a bright spot for Jefferson

As far as 10-year coach Eve Soto-Suarez knows, Jefferson went into Thursday's final having never won a district championship. But against Chamberlain in the 6A-9 final at Blake, Jefferson took a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning and pitcher Nikki Lopez held on to deliver the first title in school history.

The Chiefs (20-3, 13-2) scored their only run in the third inning before two hits and a walk loaded the bases for the Dragons (14-6, 13-2) in the fourth. That's when Justine Fernandez hit a two-run double, which gave Jefferson a lead it never relinquished.

The regular season was challenging, Soto-Suarez said, but a district championship was the perfect way to end it. And for her winning pitcher, the finale was even sweeter.

"Today is Nikki Lopez's 18th birthday," Soto-Suarez said. "It was her birthday gift."

5A-9: Robinson won its second district title in three years by beating Middleton 18-3 in four innings. The Tigers (5-15, 3-3) were fresh off a 19-11 win against Spoto in Wednesday's semifinal, with which it earned the first region berth in school history. That momentum appeared to continue in the district final when the Tigers took a 3-1 lead against the Knights (11-9, 5-0) in the second inning.

Robinson, though, scored nine in the third and seven in the fourth to shut Middleton down.

Samantha Conlan was the winning pitcher for the Knights, who recorded 17 hits to Middleton's one. Conlan also had a pair of doubles, while Brandea' Rafferty and Amanda Crosby added one each.

3A-7: Carrollwood Day was one of just two schools able to top Seffner Christian in the regular season. And in the biggest game to date, the Patriots did it once again, beating the Crusaders 4-1 to win their second straight district title.

The Patriots (14-7, 8-0) were led by Emma Frost, who finished 4-for-4, and Amanda Rose, who had a pair of RBIs. Savannah Bennett also helped out by laying down a bunt that coach Chuck Fest said blew the game open.

Carrollwood Day has now gone two straight seasons without losing a district game. It's an accomplishment Fest said has come about due to tough non-district competition.

"Our record overall doesn't look all that impressive," he said. "But 20 straight wins in the district in two years, I think that makes us a better team all the way around."

2A-7: Academy at the Lakes' Alexis Kilfoyl had a lot to prove in the final against Cambridge Christian. In the teams' previous meeting, April 3, the Wildcats' only pitcher was worn out after a travel tournament the previous weekend and struggled, walking 10 in a 3-1 loss.

Thursday, though, that was a distant memory. The seventh-grader took a no-hitter into the sixth and struck out a season-high 12 in visiting AATL's 5-1 victory that clinched a third straight title.

"She had her emotions under control," Wildcats coach Jerry English said. "She had a little rest, and she … pitched a great game."

AATL's offense backed Kilfoyl's gem against Cambridge sophomore Alea White. USF commit Lauren Evans smashed a triple to right in the first and scored on a single by Rebecca Hannah to give the Wildcats (14-3) an early lead.

Skyler Boynton scored on a wild pitch in the third, and AATL added a run in the fourth on a fielding error — one of six by Cambridge (15-5) — to make it 3-0.

Megan Rygiel scored the Lancers' lone run on a single by White in the sixth. But Kilfoyl struck out three of her final six batters.

Times correspondent Jeff Odom contributed to this report.

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